My heart fluttered as I pulled into the small parking lot after a grueling twelve hour drive. Hues of gray stretched across the once blue skies as my shaky hand turned the key to cut the ignition. I slumped in my seat, closed my eyes and exhaled deeply. I searched the inner most parts of myself to find the strength to face what I knew stood before me. It was a monster of a task that nothing could prepare me for. Drops of water began to softly beat against the top of the small economy sized rental. The door creaked and closed behind me with one a soft push. One painfully slow step after another, I ventured into a small family owned funeral home just a few miles south of the South Carolina border. No, not my mother, this can’t be real, I thought to myself. A kind lady met me at the door and offered her condolences. She then led me into a room to discuss the process of laying my mother to rest. Soft piano music in the background attempted to assuage my building grief, but ultimately failed to soothe my aching soul. I never thought in a million years I would have to bury my mother at the ripe age of 29. It was inconceivable, really. She was a woman in the prime of her life, who had an undying love for Zumba, laughing and looked forward to retiring.
Everyday we’re faced with moments where we wish we could have done and said things differently. Days after burying my mother, my mind was filled with harassing thoughts and questions that made my stomach flip. You should have called more often. Why didn’t you force her to take more trips? Maybe you should have moved back home to help her. Why didn’t do more? These ruminations wreaked havoc on me and left me riddled with guilt. My logic knew these feelings were rooted in grief, but it still hurt like hell. Somebody some where right now is feeling the intense sting of guilt, and like me at the time, this guilt is robbing you of your peace of mind. Each day feels like an exhaustive struggle that is taking every ounce of your strength to get through. And you’re tired of trying to hold it together for everyone. If this is you, these words are for you.
Guilt is something we don’t often address. We coerce ourselves into believing it’s far easier to bury it somewhere in the back of our mind as we move throughout life hoping it’ll go away. You eventually get to a place where you realize it doesn’t. I’m writing this piece today to kindly nudge you. It’s time to deal with the guilt; it’s time to let go. Perhaps, you’ve done something in the past that hurt someone you love and it’s been hard to move past it. Maybe you’ve been blaming yourself for a failure. Maybe you’ve been harboring pain from something that happened to you when you were a child that wasn’t your fault. Maybe there was a situation where you did all that you could do and things still feel apart. Stop blaming yourself, you did what you thought was best at the time with the resources available to you. I want you to know you don't have to carry this burden of the past any longer.
Guilt is an emotional prison. Trust me, I know first hand. Letting go of the past takes courage, and this courage is already within you. It requires us to dig deep within to find it. Despite what you may think, you don’t have to go at this alone either. Sometimes our burdens are too heavy to handle by ourselves. Seeking counsel is one of the bravest things you could ever do if you need it. I advocate for it. Don’t let anyone make you feel crazy for taking your mental health seriously. This is your life and you hold the keys. Lastly, I leave you with this: There is life after a mistake. There is hope after a fall. There is peace awaiting you.
If you found this piece encouraging, you may also find my novel, Digging Deep Within: A story of Courage and Liberation equally empowering. Click here for more information.